DURBAN – There has been much focus in the media on religious organisations, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that religious places will be allowed to re-open for services – and how well they will be able to enforce the very strict rules to minimise the risk of infection.
According to director of the Denis Hurley Centre, Raymond Perrier, faith communities have not been idle in the past nine weeks of lockdown. In fact, their role in collecting money and food and distributing to people in need has been life-saving.
“We continue to encourage our supporters to contribute to organisations that are running food distribution projects. Stand-out among those are the KZN Christian Council working with Domino Foundation which has helped almost 30,000 poor families across the Province. Their model of food vouchers is especially effective since it means money is by being spent in local communities and so supporting local jobs,” said Perrier.
Among faith-based organisations, including the Muslim Association of South Africa, the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) in collaboration with Jamiatul Ulama KZN – Project HELP and the Natal Memon Jamaat (NMJ), and the SA Muslim Covid-19 Response Task Team have been at the forefront in providing and distributing essential medical equipment and food parcels.
According to the latter’s Facebook page, South African Muslim organizations have since the lockdown until 22 April given 55 million South African Rand of relief aid to more than one million vulnerable people.
Perrier also said the way in which religious groups have adapted their forms of worship has been commendable.
“And if even some people do now go back to services, socially distant forms of worshipping can continue to keep people safe. We were pleased, for example, that the Interfaith Ifthaar that we usually organise for the last week of Ramadan, happened in a virtual way, organised by our old friend Aslam Mayet and enabled dozens of people to participate,” he said.
Iqraa Trust has donated over R1M to support different welfare organisations tackling Covid-19; in addition they have distributed 1,000 food parcels themselves and have also worked with partners to distribute many more in townships around Durban.
According to the Kerkbode, the official publication of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, their buildings have on request of the South African Council of Churches been registered as essential centres for relief aid, with local congregations and social service councils in synods taking initiatives to provide food packages and assistance to vulnerable people in this time of crisis.
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